World battling 'infodemic' along with pandemic: Thakur

India faced a dual information challenge during Covid-19: I&B Minister Thakur

Anurag Thakur said the government's publicity arm PIB was actively involved in debunking fake narratives and news

Minister for Information and Broadcasting Anurag Thakur. Credit: PTI Photo

At a time the world is facing a pandemic, Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur has said that countries are forced to fight an equally damaging 'infodemic', as he asserted that flow of authentic information is crucial to addressing misinformation.

In an online address to the 'Summit for Information and Democracy' on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly hosted at the Consulate General of France, New York on Friday, he said misinformation and disinformation can be "harmful" to people's physical and mental health, increase stigmatisation, threaten precious health gains and lead to poor observance of public health measures, thus reducing their effectiveness in controlling the pandemic.

"While the world is battling the pandemic, the task of combating the equally damaging 'infodemic' also presents a challenge to member States. It is important that the issue of 'infodemic' is addressed at the highest level. We are pleased to be a founding member and signatory of the International Partnership for Information and Democracy," he said.

Also Read | India top source of social media misinformation on Covid-19: Study

Citing the "onslaught of misinformation" faced by India during Covid-19, he said, the country faced a "dual information challenge" in the wake of the pandemic.

"On one end of the spectrum, the urban population faced the challenge of the rapid spread of misleading and fake information through social media and other smartphone applications. On the other end, we had people in rural and remote areas, where last-mile communication varied from region to region with multiple regional languages," he said.

He said the Indian government responded to these challenges through "swift and clear" communication, based on science and facts. Ensuring the regular and authentic flow of information has been an important policy component of the Indian response to counter misinformation, fake news and false narratives, he said adding daily press briefings on Covid-19 were held.

The government's publicity arm Press Information Bureau (PIB) was actively involved in debunking fake narratives and news through its various platforms, he said.

"We also used the power of humour to inform the Indian public on various issues...A transparent, timely and trust worthy flow of information furthers democracy and allows our citizens to take informed decisions. India firmly believes in this," he said.

Check out DH's latest videos:

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox